Word On The Street
There’s a buzz about town and our ears are burning.
Louisville (October 25, 2022) – Councilmembers Markus Winkler (D-17) and Anthony Piagentini (R-19) announce their sponsorship of an ordinance allocating $40 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding as recommended by the Workforce Development workgroup. This is the seventh round of proposed ARP funding and will be appropriated to the Healthcare Workforce Innovation Coalition.
Louisville is facing a healthcare workforce crisis that is uniquely detrimental to our largest sector and is poised to only get worse, especially with an aging demographic. Healthcare jobs are expected to increase nearly 4x the amount of all other jobs in the region with an anticipated need for nearly 8,500 healthcare jobs in Greater Louisville by 2029. All of this, compounded by increased personnel costs from a COVID-fueled national wage market as well as a shift towards an aging nation, has created the perfect workforce storm with swelling labor costs, decreasing productivity, missed economic opportunity, and the potential for a true healthcare crisis.
With this crisis Louisville has a rare opportunity to be in front as a national leader and solution model epicenter leading to extreme economic growth. Achieving recognition as a leading world center of aging innovation and attracting even 1% of the global longevity economy to move or expand here, we are poised to experience a growth of $80 billion.
The Louisville Healthcare CEO Council (CEO), which represents the fifteen largest healthcare aging innovation companies founded or headquartered in Louisville, has formed a coalition to address this mounting crisis.
The Healthcare Workforce Innovation Coalition is comprised of public and private stakeholders who are committed to collectively transforming Greater Louisville’s economy into a national epicenter of healthcare aging innovation. The $40 million in ARP seed funds will be used to execute a comprehensive, systems levels approach focused on three strategic priorities:
- Executing a comprehensive, industry led and healthcare-focused workforce strategy that increases and diversifies the healthcare talent pipeline for jobs at all levels by mitigating barriers to training and employment.
- Increasing the region’s capacity of workforce innovation for a stronger and more equitable health economy
- Supporting this initiative through project elements including the development of a state-of-the art tech and learning center in Russell Station, connecting East to West, (forming a regional innovation corridor from Nulu to Russell).
“Workforce development is critical to our city’s growth,” says Winkler. “With this ARP allocation we are making a substantial investment in producing workers for one of our key industries – healthcare. Getting people into high paying jobs helps address many challenges in our community and the fact that healthcare leaders in our city have committed to creating thousands of jobs around this project should be exciting for all of our residents.”
“This proposal for the workforce segment of the ARP funding is focused on a transformational program to increase our local healthcare workforce,” says Piagentini. “This is not only a signature industry in Louisville, but it is also critical to improving the overall health of our community. This recommended program involves multiple organizations in our city and will be transformational in creating the healthcare jobs of the future.”
ARP funding was allocated to cities by the federal government in 2021 to help communities recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Louisville Metro Government (LMG) was allocated $388 million in ARP Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. As of today, there is $58 million in remaining funding to be allocated by 2024. The remaining $18 million will be allocated in the near future to other projects currently in discussion.
The Metro Council and Mayor Fischer developed priority areas for ARP spending which include Public Safety, Public Health, Homelessness and Affordable Housing, Workforce Development, and Healthy Louisville/Healthy Neighborhoods. This proposal was vetted and approved by the Workforce Development workgroup.
This article originally appeared in Louisville Business First on July 29, 2022.
“The new normal.” “Pre-covid.” “Post-pandemic.” Common phrases of 2022, often used to justify a new shortage of goods or services, a long wait, or a lackluster experience.
These phrases were noticeably — and refreshingly — absent during a recent forum convened by Health Enterprises Network, an initiative of Greater Louisville Inc., where more than 150 local health care and business leaders gathered to discuss how the workforce shortage is impacting health care delivery and patient experience.
We cannot accept this as the “new normal” in health care, nor should we compromise patient experiences and outcomes.
One of the key takeaways from the conversation was that nurses are essential to all parts of the health care ecosystem. The shortage of nurses in Kentucky prompted Gov. Andy Beshear last year to issue a state of emergency.
According to the filing, Kentucky needs 12% to 20% more nursing staff to operate at full capacity. However, the shortage will only get worse as the state projects losing another 16,000 nurses over the next two years. Other health-related fields are experiencing similar staffing shortages.
This is a crisis for health care not just in Kentucky, but throughout the country.
Nationally, nearly 20% of health care workers have quit their jobs since the pandemic began. Several trends have resulted: Some hospital nurses have requested transfers to less stressful outpatient settings, where the work is less physically demanding, and the patient cases are less complex.
Many nurses are using their experience with various therapies to begin new careers in the pharmaceutical or health-insurance sectors. Others have taken jobs in nonclinical areas such as consulting, startups and other businesses.
There is no magic wand to fix what feels like a mass exodus, so health leaders must be proactive and deliberate about retention. Here are a few of the options we discussed at the Health Enterprises Network’s recent forum:
REDESIGN THE WORK USING TECHNOLOGY TOOLS
Nurses often spend much of their time on paperwork and other duties not directly related to patient care. Off-loading administrative duties to other employees can relieve some pressure. Technology and automation can help reduce or eliminate repetitive tasks, enabling nurses to work at the top of their license — spending more time providing care.
Consider reducing on-call time, allowing some training to occur from home, or providing more paid time off. Artificial intelligence tools and data-driven solutions may help hospitals and health systems proactively identify employees who might be burning out and at risk of leaving.
CREATE A MORE HUMANIZED CLINICIAN EXPERIENCE
Some hospitals and health systems may need to restructure existing policies and procedures to reinforce that their leaders are invested in employees’ professional and personal goals. This could provide front-line personnel with more autonomy, help innovate new workflows, and provide vital feedback to leadership.
MOTIVATE AND MENTOR
Mentorships between experienced staff and new hires help instill loyalty and improve worker retention. Health care staff need opportunities to advance professionally within their organizations.
Employers clearly have a role to play in addressing this shortage, but legislative action is also critical to increase the supply of trained health care workers. The Kentucky General Assembly acted this year to bring more health care professionals into the field faster by lifting limits on enrollment for nursing schools and expanding state reciprocity for nurses.
Beyond that, it’s critical to promote the benefits of working in health care and make employment opportunities in the industry more accessible to those who are passionate about helping others.
In addition to pursuing legislative solutions, we are also doing our part as leaders in the community to address this ongoing shortage. In January, the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council convened the chief human resources officers of major health care organizations to establish the Center for Healthcare Workforce Innovation (CHeWI).
The Center is a strategic partnership between health care employers, higher education, and community partners including Greater Louisville Inc. to address many of the challenges we’re facing, and to proactively recruit, train and retain the health care workforce of tomorrow at the local, regional and national levels.
Some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet work in health care, and we owe these health care heroes solutions to the workforce shortage. While we are developing technology, policy and community solutions, we encourage employers to embrace open, creative dialogue with their employees to better understand how they can improve the work experience and keep these great people on their team.
— Dr. Jay Bhatt is a physician executive, internist and executive director for the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and the Deloitte Health Equity Institute. Logan Gatti is the director of the Health Enterprises Network, an initiative of Greater Louisville Inc. Josh Williams is the director of strategic initiatives for the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council.